More assistance for your brain with ReQall, a memory aid

“Information overload” is the call-word for the modern lifestyle. Even with the help of calendars, alarms, notes and other memory aids, it’s easy to lose track of what you need to do in the swirl of what’s going on. The latest tool I’ve found to help out is called ReQall.

The brain-child of Sunil Vemuri, an MIT Ph.D. who focused his dissertation on memory, ReQall keeps track of notes you send to it by email, instant message or, best of all, a dial-in number from your phone that allows you to just state the task. The notes can be retrieved by the same methods or be set to automatically ping you when a task needs to be done.

ReQall could be useful for any number of things, from reminders to pick up something at the grocery store to keeping tabs on what you need to do at work. Helpfully, it can also send reminders to others — for instance, if someone on your team also has an account, you can leave a note or reminder for them.

All is not perfect. Pictures are an essential memory aid, but so far, ReQall only integrates with Picasa albums; it needs its own picture storage to shine. The interface, also, could take a while to become familiar with, as it requires specific wordings to get ReQall to distinguish between different kinds of notes. As bad as our memories seem to be, they’re actually good enough that building a truly effective alternative is a challenging task.

The most difficult point for a memory program may be tying all our aids — calendars, notes, pictures and so forth — into one effective utility. ReQall already plugs into iCal and offers an RSS feed; in the future, Vemuri plans on opening an API so other developers can plug into the data.

ReQall has some serious competition, too. One of the best is Evernote, a note- and record-keeping tool that I reviewed last year. Evernote has so far been a Windows-only download, but is opening a web-based version in late March. Vemuri claims that his greatest competition is actually the post-it note, but if someone could merge the best features of both ReQall and Evernote, we might just have the perfect memory aid.

ReQall took a seed investment of $2.5 million back in 2006, from IT Ventures and Edge Ventures. It’s based in India, with offices in China and the USA.

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